The guidelines and information below are intended as an overview to assist members of the public seeking access to public records in the custody of the Town of Barnstable. Effective January 1, 2017, the public records law, section 10 of Chapter 66 of the Mass General Laws, states the following:
"A records access officer appointed pursuant to Section 6A, or a designee, shall at reasonable times and without unreasonable delay permit inspection or furnish a copy of any public record as defined in clause twenty-sixth of section 7 of chapter 4, or any segregable portion of a public record, not later than 10 business days following the receipt of the request."
Before Making a Request
Check that the documents you seek are likely held by the Town. There is a different County of Barnstable government. Naturally the Town will not have State of Massachusetts or US Government documents.
Make your request as specific as you can. The more specific the better the ability to respond; the less specific, the greater the potential time and expense to respond (see Responding to a Request below).
Two ways to make a Request
A request can be made to the Records Access Officers (RAO) orally but making it in writing is far more preferable (remember be specific) so that misunderstanding is minimized or eliminated and providing what you are looking for is faster and less costly.
The following RAOs have been designated by the Town Manager. Records Access Officers are available to answer questions concerning and to help facilitate the response to public records requests for their individual departments. The Town Clerk is available to assist you in identifying the appropriate department with custody of the records you are requesting.
|Town Clerk||Ann Quirk||508-862-4044|
|Town Manager||Mark S. Ells||508-862-4610|
|Community Services||Madeline Noonan||508-862-4956|
|Human Resources||William Cole||508-862-4694|
|Information Technology||Jim Benoit||508-862-4624|
|Police Department||Kathy Hinckley||508-778-3830|
|Tax Collector||Debra Blanchette||508-862-4054|
|Town Council||Cynthia Lovell||508-862-4733|
Responding to a Request
The response can be made in one of two ways, via email or paper copy sent out through US first class mail.
If the extent of the request is great enough that responding within 10 Business Days would be unduly burdensome, instead of the actual documents the Town can supply a written statement identifying what documents can be produced (or not and why), an estimate of the time and expense to comply with the request and when to comply up to 25 business days or longer if the Town applies for and is granted an extension by the State Supervisor of Public Records.
Some documents or portions of documents are privileged and not public, for example documents providing legal advice or some personnel matters. If the request covers such documents the response will state the reason(s).
The Town can recover its expense for searching and providing the requested documents. Copies cost 5 cents per page. If it will require between 2 and 4 hours to search, review and prepare the response, the Town can recover for the time between 2 and 4 hours; if it will take longer than 4 hours the Town can recover for the time after 4 hours. The rate for the process is the lowest hourly employee wage rate up to $25.00 per hour not including time for segregating or redacting unless required by law or approved by the supervisor.
Fees and charges are payable in advance.
The hyperlinks below are the official documents from the Commonwealth: